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  • Author or Editor: Gary E. Bates x
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Research is lacking on the impact of alternative reduced tillage (RT) systems on vegetable crop performance and soil quality, especially in organic production systems, where weed control cannot rely on synthetic herbicides. A 2-year field study was implemented in Aug. 2010 in Knoxville, TN, to evaluate cover crop–based systems for organic vegetable production either with or without spring tillage. Treatments, all organically managed, included 1) Till (+ACC), spring tillage of a winter cover crop with aboveground cover crop biomass (ACC) retained and soil covered by polyethylene mulch; 2) Till (−ACC), spring tillage of a winter cover crop with aboveground cover crop biomass (ACC) removed before tillage and soil covered by polyethylene mulch; and 3) RT system with no spring tillage and mechanically terminated winter cover crop residue on the soil surface. Vegetable crops of eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) and watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. et Nakai] were planted in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Crop yield, cover crop biomass accumulation, soil N and C dynamics, and weed density were assessed. Marketable eggplant yield and marketable watermelon yield did not differ among treatments, but weed density was higher in the RT system. Measures of soil quality after 2 years of the study indicated that particulate organic matter-carbon (POM-C) and -nitrogen (POM-N) were highest in the RT treatment, a significant increase as compared with values at the beginning of the study. As a measure of the active fraction of soil organic matter, this indicates that the RT system may best maintain and improve soil quality in similar regional organic vegetable cropping systems. As indicated by measures of soil quality and crop yield, removal of aboveground cover crop biomass did not negatively impact the Till (−ACC) system as compared with the Till (+ACC).

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Trumpetcreeper (Campsis radicans) is a native, perennial, weedy vine of pastures, row crops, fence rows, and right-of-ways throughout most of the eastern United States. Field and greenhouse studies were conducted in 2008 and 2009 near Newport, TN, and in Knoxville, TN, to evaluate aminocyclopyrachlor-methyl and aminopyralid alone and in mixtures with 2,4-D and diflufenzopyr for selective trumpetcreeper control when applied postemergence in an abandoned nursery. These treatments were compared with commercial standards of dicamba and a prepackaged mixture of triclopyr plus 2,4-D. In the field, aminocyclopyrachlor-methyl alone controlled trumpetcreeper 77% to 93%, while aminopyralid alone only controlled trumpetcreeper 0% to 20% by 12 months after treatment (MAT). The addition of diflufenzopyr or 2,4-D to aminocyclopyrachlor-methyl did not improve trumpetcreeper control in the field; however, the addition of 2,4-D to aminopyralid improved control of trumpetcreeper from 50% to 58%. All aminocyclopyrachlor-methyl treatments controlled trumpetcreeper greater than or equal to dicamba and the prepackaged mixture of triclopyr plus 2,4-D. In the greenhouse, aminocyclopyrachlor and aminocyclopyrachlor-methyl applied at 8.75 to 35 g·ha−1 controlled trumpetcreeper 58% to 72% by 1 MAT. When both herbicides were applied at 70 g·ha−1, aminocyclopyrachlor controlled trumpetcreeper 64%, while aminocyclopyrachlor-methyl controlled trumpetcreeper 99%, similar to dicamba.

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